‘A Mason’s Hand’ by Ali Akbar Natiq


From Granta:

‘Haji sahib, these kids are beyond me. I can’t teach them any more. Please make some other arrangement,’ he said, throwing his hands in the air.

‘Why do I need another arrangement when I have you?’ Haji Altaf sounded apologetic. ‘I have tried every good tutor in the city but nobody has lasted even a month. I thought you were from a good family and needed a job. You are the only one who can teach these rascals. You can go and look for another job but while you are looking, please keep teaching them.’

‘Haji sahib, that’s all very well. But your grandsons don’t respect me, they don’t listen to a single thing I tell them. I am wasting their time as well as my own. I do hard manual labour all day – I just don’t have the energy to do this too.’ Asghar started to walk out of the door but stopped and turned. ‘Haji sahib, if you really have any sympathy for me, see if you can get me a proper job.’

‘Okay,’ Haji said. ‘But I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life building minarets for mosques.’

‘Then what shall I do?’ he asked.

‘Why don’t you go to my sons in Saudi?’ Haji Altaf patted his shoulder. ‘God will create some opportunity for you there.’

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